Far more than I ever dared to hope for : Victorian traveler Isabella Bird in the Rocky Mountains

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Melanie Bundick Bruce (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Janet Ellerby

Abstract: At age forty-two Victorian Englishwoman Isabella Bird traveled alone on horseback and in the winter through the Colorado Rockies, stopping at cabins and homesteads for shelter. Background biographical information informs the discussion of Bird’s travels and her lifelong invalidism, for which doctors prescribed travel. Her health vastly improved while traveling; possible reasons for this improvement while she was away from Victorian England and the demands of her homeland culture are explored. From her experiences in Colorado, she wrote the travel memoir, A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains. Bird claimed that her memoir was written from letters she wrote home to her sister Henrietta, but a recently published collection of her transcribed letters, Letters to Henrietta, reveals that Bird did edit her letters before publication of A Lady’s Life. Some of the changes she made are noteworthy and therefore, are identified and discussed. Bird’s reaction to the Colorado landscape is a mixture of awe, enchantment, fascination, and fear. This thesis examines Bird's conflicting feelings toward the wilderness environment from feminist and psychoanalytical perspectives. Further, Bird often seems at home not only in a wilderness setting, but with the company of marginalized individuals, most notably Mountain Jim Nugent, a desperado. Her relationship with Mountain Jim is revealing as he reflects many of her own struggles with alienation. Bird, stifled by Victorian conventions, found relief from her mental and physical ill health in her travels and through her contact with others who lived outside the rules of polite Victorian society, as well in the wilderness landscape that welcomed and then challenged her.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Bird Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy) 1831-1904, Frontier and pioneer life--Rocky Mountains, Nugent Jim B. 1827 or 8
Bird, Isabella L. (Isabella Lucy), 1831-1904
Nugent, Jim, b. 1827 or 8
Frontier and pioneer life -- Rocky Mountains

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